What I Found At The Bottom of A Bag of Ruffles and a Bowl of Cheese Dip

“Everything works out in the end.
If it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end.”

In Issue #238

Main Essay: What I Found At The Bottom of A Bag of Ruffles and a Bowl of Cheese Dip
by Susanne Scaldino

After roughly eighteen months of study and two months in the Copy Protégé Mentoring Program, I had reached an impasse in my pursuit of a copywriting career.

I work as a Virtual Assistant for a small law firm and had spent the past two months working with Monica and my Copy Protégé “pod mates” on several projects including the website for my virtual assistant business, followed by feverish work on a website to market my copywriting services. On one of our recent morning calls, the verdict came in that what I really needed to do was marry the two websites and market both skill sets.

Oh, woe is me … That meant I wouldn’t be leaving my job as a virtual assistant and breaking into the world of copywriting overnight.

Combining the two sites may sound like a very practical solution to remaining employed in today’s job market (and it is), but to my inner defeatist, it sounded like the “Voice of Doom.”

You know that voice … the one that speaks in absolutes. Mine is a little menace that has parked her bony little behind on my shoulder and stood ready to convince me of the likelihood of failure at every turning point in my life since I was about twelve years old.

You will NEVER get your driver’s license (she was wrong) …

You will NEVER get into college (she was wrong again) …

You will NEVER get married (I wish she had been right about this one the first time around but that’s another story for another day) …

This time, she was saying I would NEVER succeed as a copywriter. That I would ALWAYS be stuck working for someone else … ALWAYS at someone else’s beck and call … I would NEVER be my own boss … I would NEVER have the freedom I wanted as a writer … I would just NEVER be good enough.

So I did what I’ve always done when I feel myself sliding down the bank into the River of Self-Pity and Despair.

I went to the grocery store and bought a jumbo bag of Ruffles potato chips and the makings of a big bowl of piping hot Rotel cheese dip and proceeded to eat my way into a carb induced sense of oblivion.

But this time, as I sat licking the last vestiges of salt from my fingers and scooping up the remnants of cheese dip, something different happened. I didn’t just wrap myself in a cocoon of pasteurized cheese product and wallow in the gloom.

I got mad. Supremely ticked off. Seriously, royally angry with myself. I can’t speak for anyone else but for me, anger is my A Number One Motivator.

What the heck was I doing? Why was I listening to that nagging little voice? How many times had she been wrong?

And I realized it was time for me to put up or shut up. I had invested a lot of time, effort and money into learning this skill. I was not giving up on it.

No, it wasn’t going to be easy. No one was going to walk up and hand me the life I wanted. There wouldn’t be a knock on my front door and some fairy godmother standing there to say “I hear you want to be a successful copywriter, my dear … here’s your career.”

If I wanted it, I was going to have to take it. It wasn’t going to be textbook perfect. It wasn’t going to happen overnight. But it was what it was. If I really wanted this career, I was going to have to put on my big girl panties and deal with it. I was going to do what I needed to do to get to where I wanted to be.

I started looking at everything I had done over the past thirty years of my working life, writing down everything I had accomplished. I made a list of my skills, from strongest to weakest. I wrote down my goals, both short term and long term.

As I looked at my lists, an idea began to take shape. I really could combine my skills as a paralegal with my copywriting skills and be that much more valuable to my prospective clients. I’ve never seen these two skill sets combined to target a very specific niche. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. This was going to work. I started thinking about five years down the road, what I could do with the business … subcontracting the virtual assistant work, producing information products … I really felt like I was on to something and that enthusiasm was worth its weight in gold.

I know I’m not the only one with that nagging little voice; the one that convinces us too often to quit … to take the easy way out … to just give up … that we don’t have permission to succeed.

When she rears her ugly little head, stop and take a minute to remember who you are, what you want, and why you decided to pursue this path in the first place. Remember what you’ve done, what makes you unique and use all of that experience to sell yourself and your skills as a copywriter.

As I sit here now, a mere five blocks from the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park, two million of the most beautiful acres on the face of this planet, I am reminded that this place of unrivaled beauty was forged from fire. And not just once. The best things in life are what come to us after we’ve fought through the pain.

Keep your eye on what you want … write your business plan in pencil … and never, ever give up.

And when that nasty little voice starts talking, shut her up with some Ruffles and cheese dip and tell her to pipe down and mind her own damn business.

Susanne Scaldino is a freelance copywriter specializing in working with attorneys in solo practice and small law firms.  Based in Livingston, Texas, she is currently traveling the country in a motorhome with her husband and their dog, a Yellow Labrador/Boxer mix named Manfred.  She can be reached at sscaldino@earthlink.net or on the web at www.PracticeGrowthSpecialist.com.

Resource Referral: Three Spaces and Counting!

In case you missed the last couple of issues, I want you to know the window is closing this week to work with myself (Monica Day) or my colleague Mary Guinane McNamara – in our full-length, three-month intensive, kick-your-butt-until-you-make-some-money Mentoring Program!

OK, that’s not what we actually call it … but it should be.

This program is not a cookie cutter curriculum. We focus on YOU! We start by finding out what you want your copywriting career to look like. Then, we analyze what you need in terms of marketing direction, writing skills, goal-setting, networking skills – everything that goes into getting ready, up and running in your new career. And then, we work with you to make that dream into your everyday reality.

Krista and I – and now Mary – have walked this road ourselves. More than once now. Each one of us knows firsthand what it takes to get you from where you are – to where you want to be. And we’re not afraid to push, prod, support, handhold, and then, ultimately, kick you out of the nest and watch you fly.

And it’s not just what you’ll learn from us that will get you where you’re going. The program is unique in that you’ll work both individually with your mentor, as well as in a group of your peers – and future colleagues.

Take Angie Dixon, for example. Angie came to the program with a lot of expertise in making money on Elance. But her real passion was to write and market her own information products. So … she wrote (and now the Copy Protégé markets) her system, Elance Success for Writers.

Amity Hook was in a mentoring “pod” with Angie. She heard her go through the writing and editing process – and was so excited for Angie, she purchased her book as soon as the link hit the net.

Fast forward to today – just a few months later. Amity writes Angie and I to tell us she landed her biggest fish yet – on Elance. Whole Foods Market! With a project that pays well, is perfectly aligned with her USP – and landed squarely in her lap because of what she learned from Angie’s system.

See how that works? It can work out perfectly for you, too. It’s a little like magic sometimes – the right people come at the right time, meet, learn together, collaborate, and great things happen.

If you think this might be the right time and program for you, take a chance and write to us. Send your writing sample and goals for the next six months today. If you want to focus on the fundraising niche write “I want to work with Mary” in your subject line and send your materials to us at admin@copyprotege.com. And if you’re focusing on any other area – or you have no idea what type of writing you want to do – write “I want to work with Monica” in your subject line and send in your materials to the same address.

Announcing: The Official Virtual Mentor Launch Date!

The i’s are being dotted … the t’s are being crossed …

Wow! It takes quite a bit to launch such a comprehensive program! But Krista and I are committed to making Virtual Mentor the first and only affordable coaching program of its kind that gives you everything you need – when and how you need it!

And best of all … we figured out how to make it even MORE affordable. We found a way to offer you the complete program for under $40 a month!

Watch for the launch of Virtual Mentor – officially slated now for the week of May 18th. Make whatever preparations you need to now so you can join us the day we launch. You won’t want to miss it!